Review of "The Kingdom of this World"

The pacing of Alejo Carpentier’s novel The Kingdom of This World
means that the life of Ti Noel, the main character, goes by in a swift 180 pages. The novel also includes the perspectives of Pauline Bonaparte and Lenormand de Mezy, a French planter, that flee Haiti to Cuba following the outbreak of the revolution. This lack of focus on the main actors of the slave revolt, such as Toussaint Louverture, as well as it’s change of setting to Cuba helps contextualize these events as not being cordoned off within what came to be Haiti but as an event of Caribbean and indeed World History and additionally seeks to hint at the means in which other “ordinary” people played in it. This subaltern perspective additionally hints at some of the later conflicts that would develop in Carpentier’s home country, Cuba, and also gives him the capacity to allude to similar developments that would happen far after the events of the revolution. Most specifically, the French planters violent enforcement of productive relations unperturbed by the moral and legal rights emanating from the “mother country” has clear overtones to the American/Cuban financial interests that perpetuated terrible conditions for agricultural laborers.

Though one of the main ur-texts of magical realism, a style Carpentier called “lo real maravilloso”, the book is also the product of deep historical research. Carpentier extensively read up on the Haitian revolution. One such example of this is the novel’s early narrative of Macandal, a mentor to Ti-Noel, a historical figure that was a charismatic leader of Maroon bands that lead raid and killed slave-owners through armed violence and poison. As it relates to this particular historical figure, the magical aspects of the novel describe his ability to transform into various animals and insects in order to escape detection by the slave-owners. This is especially significant as it explains how he was able to travel to foment rebellion amongst the slaves in an area that as a black person would have meant capture, imprisonment or, as was to later happen, death. Additionally the attribution of such potential for magical transformation allows Carpentier to highlight the oppression felt by the Haitian slaves. Non-human creatures, lacking owners, are potential sources for the spread of insurrectionary sentiment. A bird, a fly, a horse – all are Macandal because all are free. This is not, however the only way that news of Macandal’s

One of the dominant themes of the book is the conflict which exists between the Christian and Voodoo religions as well as the practices of African and European soveirgnty. As Ti-Noel relates it to the latter, the Europeans are an effeminate, weak people and are only powerful because of their increased capacity to use weapons that are in comparison to their own much technologically advanced. From Macandal’s teaching, Ti-Noel comes to remember the wisdom of his homeland and view it as superior to that of Europe. A good example that directly tackles this conflict is found in the narrator’s description of Ti-Noel’s thoughts: “In Africa the king was warrior, judge and prier; his precious seed distended hundreds of bellies with a mighty strain of heroes. In France, in Spain, the king sent his generals to fight in his stead; he was incompetent to decide legal problems; he allowed himself to be scolded by an trumpery friar.” The scorn shown by him towards the French is serious, but also a point of mockery due to the naming of the French king as Dauphin, or dolphin. On the issue of religions, the slaves see the Christian God as the God that is impelling the French to make the slaves suffer while their gods demand vengeance and the destruction of the white God that is attempting to kill them. The slave-owners come to understand this, recognize and thus attempt to regulate some of their use of fetishes. Their ability to do so is shown as being weak, understandably so given the difficulty in truly deracinating such beliefs, and they fear drums. Drums are no longer just a means for the slaves to occupy themselves following their labor in the field but are also a socializing point where songs can be sung about those fighting the slave-owners and also for communicating with distant farms so that military actions can be accomplished on a co-ordinated basis.

Judicial execution, murder and a scene presaging rape are all part of the text but Carpentier’s focus is not so much on the actual battles but the changes to Ti-Noel’s daily life following the transition to a new order. The new regime in power, one made primarily of mulattos, has certain conditions that it must require in order to sustain itself and so replicates some of the same or worse practices of the previous labor regime. Ti-Noel’s forced ejection from the ruins of his master’s house and the “rebirth of shackles” is setting for how the novel ends. Ti-Noel reflects upon these circumstances, leading him to come to believe that “Man’s greatness consists in the very fact of wanting to be better than he is. In laying duties upon himself.” From this gains the power to change into animals that Macandal once had, declares war upon the class of rulers, shifts out of human form and is never seen again.

Review of "The Supreme Court"

As an introductory text to the institution, The Supreme Court by Lawrence Baum does an excellent job of covering every major aspect of how the court operates. Baum delineates the decision making processes that play into the setting of the court’s agenda, periodizes the trends in rulings and charts the various developments of court norms and practices in an almost conversational, politically neutral manner. This last quality ought not to be taken to mean that Baum does not point out some of the potential problems of the court, but that they are left to the reader to research further into those subjects on their own.

One example of this is in his charting of evolving court norms. Baum points out that new standards of professionalism has meant that those lawyers not adhering to them are looked upon with disdain by the court and interrupted by the judges more frequently. By itself it could be seen as a logical adaptation of an institution, however it’s pointed out by the author that this has had the effect of making it more difficult for various interest groups to be able to argue at the Supreme Court level. The reason for this is because large amounts of money must be spent on lawyers who specialize in arguing in front of the court. Another issue linked to the increasing divergence of SCOTUS rulings from populist pressures is the large growth in the submission of Amicus Curiae briefs to court. As I said earlier though, Baum is not interested in arguing so much as he is expositing in a functionalist manner that does not isolate the court from it’s place within society and acknowledges that the special interest groups will attempt to sway the court or mobilize their base for donations.

Additionally Baum devotes a significant amount of attention to the current court’s occupants. Prior to biographical insights that may affect the current court’s jurisprudence, Baum charts the social background of the judges over time, showing how it is that once the children of elite were the only occupants of the robes and how it is now more, ostensibly, of a more meritocratic nature. Baum sagely points out, however, that the conservative nature of the institution, the social interaction with elites concomitant with such a career path is likely to make any sympathies with the “lower-class” to be negligible.

Throughout Baum is keen to downplay the role of the court as a policy making institution, especially as it relates to modern times, and focuses more on the aforementioned procedural issues. In this emphasis on the court’s “indirect impacts” I think we come to one of the books few weaknesses. Their lack of their capacity to enforce certain actions, their reactive nature and the manner in which laws alter social relations amongst actors in manners that are often difficult to quantify are just some of the issues that, while alighted upon, seem to me to be emphasized unduly. This is not to say that he completely ignores counterfactuals, touching briefly as he does on NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Television Company and Marquette National Bank v. First of Omaha Service Corp. Recent SCOTUS rulings have drastically altered the economic, social and political landscape and if not wholly emanating from the court are at least legitimized by their pronouncements. As I said in the beginning though, these are issues to which Baum is not actively seeking to analyze. I’d purchased this books in hopes of finding something that I’d be able to assign as supplementary reading for my American Government class for those interested in law and for that end find the book to be ideal.

Review of "The Mandarins"

After writing and publishing The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir won the Prix de Goncourt for her work. It is a not so subtle look at many of the people within Parisian intellectual society following the Second World War. Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Arthur Koestler are just some of the luminaries whose names have been changed for the sake of fiction. Through their conversations amongst each other and the dalliances they have we obtain an interesting insight into some of the more brilliant minds of the time as they try to sustain a certain level of authenticity and integrity as they wrestle with the circumstances in which they find themselves.

That said I was, however, generally disappointed with the book. The fault is not, however, with the writing itself but the story. The problem with the story, however, is not the fault of the author but of the historical situation in which the book is set. Following the Second World War, an exhausted France is trying to come to terms with it’s now apparent global insignificance, recover from the destruction wrought by the German army as well as those that had collaborated with them during the occupation. The streets of Paris are anything but gay and several of scenes of reverie which de Beauvoir writes about has an air of escapism to them. Understandably so, the only people with enough money for such distractions are either foreigners or those that are quite well to do.

While lacking the historical distance to be able to foretell where the then current trends in international geo-politics would go, many of the significant divergences between the socialist and communist parties and a more general humanitarian movement are brought to the light through the interpersonal conflict and conversations. While not always going into great depth, it does hint at the different values operant with the groups. As a reader familiar with the ideologies as well as the historical situations I didn’t find myself swimming in confusion, but I think that someone without this base would find this to be alienating. Perhaps, however, this is de Beauvoir’s point, however. That rather than being able to come together in a meaningful manner small variations keep these people together from uniting to become a significant political force. This infighting amongst strong egos for leadership of “the people” thus becomes one of the reasons that the right is able to come to power.

Besides these overtly political considerations, de Beauvoir also reflects on the nature of the intellectual, writing life, the nature and form of reconciliation following a war that had many collaborators, friendship, death and to a lesser extent sex. While filled with many pithy, quotable statements, I also think that at times she can overly swarm the reader with non-essential information. Sometimes it is of the sort outlined above, which I enjoy reading for it’s edifying nature, but sometimes I knew in advance that it had little to do with much else. Simone de Beauvoir’s side story of her dalliance with American writer Nelson Algren, for instance, while highlighting Sartre’s lack of possessiveness and her alienation and desire for excitement also seems to drag on at times. The little mind games that they play with each other appear spurious. While highlighting the desire for love even in a country turned upside down by war, it is perhaps longer than necessary.

Chapter Excerpt: Jesse and the Boar

The following is an excerpt from the novel I’m now working on. Jesse, one of the three protagonists, has been sent to spend the summer in the Everglades on an Outward Bound style program following his mom’s discovery of drugs in his room.

Jesse and the Boar

By the fourth day of chopping down the Australian pines, we’d stacked up forty trees. Miranda agreed with me that rather than splitting them into smaller pieces it’d be better to pull them along the shore and burn them there. After she gave us another speech on responsibility and endurance under pressure she sent us out to work. After half an hour I was already tired. Today no wind stirred the trees of the Glades and my back muscles were sore as fuck. Still, I knew if I pushed myself I could down three more. I rested for a moment and through the long, dark brown roots veining down from the branches of the Cypress I saw some saw grass move. A four foot long black boar first stuck its head out then came all the way out followed by four black and white speckled piglets. I touched my alert whistle with my left hand but feeling the weight of the axe in the right slowly put it back down. I put the axe in between my belt and pants and climbed up the tree branches, making sure that the wood didn’t hit the wood and scare the animal off. On the first level of branches, I took the axe from my pants and held it in my right hand. I could see someone chopping maybe a hundred feet away, but didn’t care who it was. Ants crawled over my hands as I made my way closer to the boar. No response. Dragonflies flew across my face and a bluebottles twice landed on my arm. They do not exist, I told myself. Right then I was a panther, moving so quietly and breathing slow so as to not give away my position. I was a predator getting ready to take my prey. As I slowly breathed in for a count of eight, I imagined myself dropping down from the branch and swinging the axe. I visualized how I would land, the best angle from which to swing, the feel of the impact, what to do in case it moved and I missed. On my second inhalation I pushed myself off the branch and landed on the ground with my knees slightly bent. The axe was already raised, I held my core in strong and mobilized every muscle from foot to hand to make the axe swing down with full force. It broke through the epidermis, scraping some of spinal column between skull and body before separating the dorsal column, the pyramidal and extrapyrimidal tracts and the tracts of the anterolateral and spinocerebellar system. It lay on its side, twitching.

I placed my foot on the pig’s fat, hairy stomach to pull the axe out. As I did this the piglets fled into the nearby grasses. After the axe was out, it’s legs continued to shake while blood and a white spume slowly spurted and bubbled out of the spinal wound. I stepped over the pig, lifted up the axe again and this time swung came down on its throat. It stopped moving after that. When I pulled out the axe a spurt of blood shot up onto my face, shorts and shirt. Looking down at the mess all over me, I smiled. There was a powerful energy running through me. I wished I had a knife to cut off a piece now and eat it before anyone came. Instead I reached down to the cut, cupped my hand and let it’s blood fill it. This is what natives would have done. Not divided up this beautiful animal that was wholly edible into some… thing that was only partly acceptable. It tasted bad. It’s just not a taste to which you are accustomed. Yes, yes, that’s it, I said to myself drank some more then flicked the blood off my hand, wiped my face then took the whistle from around my neck and blew as loud as I could and yelled out “Boar! Boar!”

I heard another whistle, then Gregg called out from the west “I just saw the little babies too!”

I yelled back, “I’m not whistling over the babies, but their Momma. Get Miranda over here!” I blew my whistle again.

“Help me get this on my back so we can take it back to camp.” I said.

“But you’re going to get bloodier.”

“So what. Get the back legs and help me heave it onto my shoulder.”

“We can both just carry it.”

“It’s not that heavy, it’s just big. Besides, I killed it, I want to bring it to camp.”

“We should just wait for Miranda.” Greg said in a fey voice.

“Dude, stop being a little bitch and just help me with this already.”

“It smells.”

“Jesus fucking Christ! How difficult are you going to make this?”


After grabbing the legs, we swung the pig onto my back on the count of three. The pig did stink, bad, and my shirt was getting even more soaked through with blood. But I didn’t care about that or that my shoulder felt like it might buckle from the animal’s weight. This was my victory. Gregg picked up my axe as we walked to camp. Brian came to where they a few moments later, then blew his whistle calling out “boar!” Miranda was there a few moments later, gun in hand, and was taken aback by the sight of me with a shit-eating grin, covered in blood, carrying the hundred twenty pound animal on my right shoulder. She looked stunned. For a second I felt that I was about to get chewed out for having risked getting hurt but instead Miranda grinned ear to ear and said with a clear pride.

“Way to go, buccaneer, congratulations on a Clean Living first!”

“Buccaneer?” I asked.

“Well, depending on who you ask, buccaneers got their name either from the buccan, the type of wood grill the Arawak used to cook animals on or they got their name from the pigs, bacon, that they’d hunt on the islands then cure in salt before going out and attacking Spanish merchant vessels. Either way we’re going to cook up that bacon on a buccan and you, Bucco, got yourself got a new nickname!”

“What’s going to happen to the piglets?” Gregg asked.

“They’re pretty resilient, but in the end they’ll live or die according to their ability to survive.” Miranda responded.

After everyone had returned to camp, Miranda called Philip on the walkie-talkie. As she relayed where they were, everyone stood around the dead pig listening to me recount how I had killed it. When I was done, she tasked everyone. Gregg was to gather ingredients wild garlic. David and Mike were to cut up extra firewood and split planks to hold the pig a few feet above the fire. Brian was to clear some area around the campsite so that it could accommodate more tents. Miranda gave Aaron her Bowie knife and told me how to clean the pig. After we’d finished instructing him, she said to me:

“Alright, now you need to wash that blood off you. I’ll grab a change of clothes and a towel from your tent then go with you to the water, gun in hand, in case any alligators in the water scent the blood on you.”

I was somewhat reluctant to wash off the once steaming hot blood that had now cooled, dried and was cracking on my skin from each minor muscle movement I made. I wanted those in the other group now on their way to see it. Nevertheless I followed her orders. Flies were already starting to make me their favorite. She grabbed some clothes from my bag in my tent and my towel. We walked three minutes to where the kayaks were tied up. I went in and stripped nude under the water. As I twisted my clothes the blood left the absorbent cotton and swirled in the surrounding water. Looking askance at the reflective surface of water, I could see Miranda eyeing the surrounding waters. But not me. Lacking chemicals to leech it all out, the clothes remained slightly discolored every time I’d pull them out of the water to check if they were clean. I didn’t mind. If the blood stains came out too quickly then perhaps the memories of this experience might suddenly leave as well. Though each of my movements twisting the clothes was efficient and steady, I felt almost drunk in the motions. Pride at a task accomplished? Yes, that was it. I looked out into the water, then back to Miranda. Her eyes were still on alert. She informed me that though no alligators were on the horizon of the water I should still hurry up. No need to tempt fate.

“OK, I’m done.” Jesse said.

Miranda, who hadn’t looked at me up until this moment, faced me as I emerged from the water with small beads dripping down my body. My wet clothing in one hand covered my nudity. I caught the towel Miranda threw and wrapped it around myself. I noticed, however, that Miranda eyes betrayed something more than concern for gators at the moment. There was attraction in them. Now if I could just be seduction like I was a predator before, I might be able to bag two different types of prey in under an hour. While walking towards her I purposefully overstepped my gait. The fold holding the towel around my waist came undone and fell to the floor. Miranda looked at me, blushed and then turned her eyes away.

“Put your towel back on.”

“Don’t you like me?”

“You’re too young for me.”

“You’re twenty-three, I’m almost seventeen. It’s legal.” I said as I lifted the towel with my right foot, grabbed it with my hand and placed it over my left shoulder.

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.” Miranda, eyes still away from my body, responded.

“You’ve been telling us to always answer the questions you ask not the questions we want to hear. Abide by your own rules and answer me – Do you like me?”

She said nothing for a few moments before affirming that it was true and then continuing quickly, “Yes but it doesn’t matter. Just because my body tells me something doesn’t mean my behavior has to agree. Remember our discussions on character? Now put the towel back on and go change behind that tree.”

“Yes… I remember what you said about character.” I said slowly as I slowly approached her, savoring the reversed role of power and in no hurry to let it pass away. “But I also remember that it is in the nature of character to change when faced with new circumstances. People must adapt to their circumstance. Right?”

At this she looked me in the eyes, utterly defiant. “I may have a bit of a crush on you, but if you think I’m going to fuck you right now then you’re not as smart as I thought.”

To avoid shifting my gaze from her face to the two projections now visible on her shirt, I stared directly back at her then responded, “I didn’t think you would. Nor do I want you to fuck me. Right now. The first time we’d fuck would be wild, but I wouldn’t want it to be in this wilderness, where we have to worry about prying eyes or ears.”

“Then what is all this for?”

“I just want a kiss for a job well done. After I have that, I’ll put my towel on and then go put my clothes on.”

“I kiss you, you tell someone, I get fired.”

“It’s bad etiquette to go around telling people our private business unless we both agreed to do so. Besides, I’m troubled, all you’d have to do is deny it and no one would believe me.”

She was silent for a moment then pulled in close enough for me to give her a kiss. As our lips were locked, I cupped her ass and pulled her pelvis to my naked body. It was so nice, firm and yet tender. Unlike the cold and hard something on my ribcage. I broke away and looked down. The revolver.

“Whoa there, Bucco. That’s enough. Keep you word and get dressed.”

I turned my back to her and while putting the dry clothes licked my lips, tasting the faint remainder of her saliva, and imagining that the faint pulse of her heart I’d felt though her lips echoed in mine. I couldn’t hold back a smile on the corner of my mouth. If nothing happens now, the seeds of desire have been planted. Her resistance may be as hard as concrete, but over time it’d crack and the water and tendrils that emerge from the seed itself would help make its way into the small imperfections that define everything that is human made and it would root into it. The root would slowly work its way through the concrete and bitumen, expanding the cracks it as it tapped down and shot up with a strong trunk that would it split apart. When we came back to camp, everyone was still buzzing with activity. I sat on a log and watched everyone work. Brian, who’d just finished clearing the area, sat down next to me. Still within earshot of Miranda, he whispered to me.

“Way to kill that boar, now we can meet those two girls from the other group!”

“Yeah. So?”

“So?!” Brian said with eyebrows raised.

“Yeah, so? It’s not like we have a chance to fuck them out here. Hey, girl I just met, step into my tent and let’s get dirtier than we already are!”

“That’s not “positive thinking,” now is it?

“Hah. No, I guess not.”

“And did you think you were going to kill a boar a few minutes before you did?”

“No, but that’s different.”

“Brian, Bucco, stop slacking. Come over here and I’ll show you how to make a buccan.” The two of us watched and helped when we could. Half an hour after the fire was started Philip and his group showed up. The kids set up their tents while Philip checked in with Miranda. He asked who killed it.

“I did.” I said.

“Good job, Jesse.” Philip said with a clearly forced smile and fake enthusiasm.

The groups shook hands and introduced themselves for the first time. Philip stated that the same rules that each group had still applied. Brian, Gregg and Mike tried talking to the girls every chance they could get. I was embarrassed for them. I was even a little bit shy when they congratulated me for killing the boar. My aloofness allowed me to keep Miranda in the periphery of my vision. The fire pit sizzled as drops of fat fell down. The aroma of it and the other foodstuffs the two girls from the other camp were attending to was simply divine. Before everyone ate Miranda said a prayer of thanks to the boar for giving it’s life to feed them, adding at the end “and thanks to Jesse for bringing us all together for this delicious meal”. I blushed.

After we ate Philip started to tell a story similar to the ones Miranda had been telling around their campfire for the past three weeks. This time it was about the rituals of the Tequesta that had once lived near the area they were now sleeping. They had hunted white tail deer there for hundreds of years. Part of their customary rites were an annual feast known as the Green Corn feast. At this time the young Indians that had hunted and killed their first animals on their own would be initiated into adulthood. Following this, all of the adult customs would now apply to them. Philip said that even though I was the only one that had killed an animal, the same held true for everyone there. Everyone had been doing something special by merit of our completing the Clean Living program and that their ceremony in a week would be that time for everyone to accept being an adult. Hearing my specialness be diminished, I couldn’t help but interrupted Philip as he started to list skills we’d learned here that could be used once outside of the wild.

“But I’m the only one that killed an animal…”

“We know that, but you weren’t able to enjoy it as much without everyone here, whether they were helping or just being present to recognize your accomplishment.”

He was right, but that wasn’t the point, and I was still pissed and decided to test what I felt to be Philip’s weakness, “Have you ever killed an animal out here?”

“No, I haven’t.” With a tone and face that implied he was somehow better for not having done it.

“So what you’re saying is that out of this group here, I’m the only one the natives would consider an adult?” I shot back.

“No, Jesse. I’ve hunted out here too.” Miranda said with a glare demanding I drop it. I could almost hear her voice inside my head saying, I can put up with some of your shit but don’t be a dick to my boss.

Enjoying what I’d gotten so far from pushing boundaries, I couldn’t help but respond “True, but you’re a woman so you wouldn’t be sitting with the chiefs as they talk business.”

“Ran.” Philip said, putting his hand up to stop what was coming out of Miranda’s teeth-bared mouth. “I got this.”

“Ha! I was just talking shit to make a point but look at you, doing with your actions the thing I was just ridiculing!”

Philip said “I don’t believe that women should be subservient to men, Jesse. However you did interrupt me, and are starting conflict with me. Rather than someone else coming into our conflict, I’m limiting its spread in the hope the two of us can come to a peaceful understanding and we can continue to have a pleasant night after having enjoyed eating the boar you bagged. Towards that end allow me to ask you to clarify something, what was your point in interrupting me?”

“Just pointing out that no one here passed any tests to be considered an adult. After this “training” we can’t legally buy beer or vote. We get caught with drugs, we still go to juvie, not jail. We may have new skills, but we’ll still considered minors until the earth circles the sun a certain number of times. I get this metaphoric reality where our time out here and ceremonies mean we’re adults now. OOoOoOooOhhhh. But AT THE SAME TIME we’re still not. Shit, I think about it now and even after we’re adults we’re still children in the eyes of the law. And really, you can talk about making some “peaceful understanding” all you want, but I haven’t forgotten that the only reason I’m here is because, one, you had two huge dudes with you that were going to tackle and hogtie my ass if I tried to escape and, two, when I did escape your “understanding” you got a pig to zap me with a tazer so you can get me out in the middle of nowhere.”

“You are here, we’re all here” he said breaking eye contact with me, “because you or your parents recognized that your behavior wasn’t productive to your being the best possible you you could be. You’re here because learning some self-awareness, communication, and leadership skills that will strengthen your self-image.”

“I get that what I’m learning out here is good, but stop talking like you know me. You’re a stranger to me. My parents may have sent me here and given you some written down information, but they don’t know me either. They’re so busy with their own lives they’re practically fucking strangers too.”

“You know, that’s the fourth time you’ve cursed.”

“So fucking what? You going to write me up for my potty mouth> Please, do. It’d be nice to have something besides leaves for toilet paper.”

Philip’s eyes scanned those around the circle to gauge their reactions to the others. I’d been checking them in my periphery the whole time so mine didn’t move off Philip.

“You’re right, bad words only have bad meaning if we allow agree that they should and you’re just expressing strong feelings. You’re also right about my not having met you until three weeks ago. But I do know you. I know from having seen your school records. Last year, your first year of high school, you were sent to internal suspension for forty-six days for things such as insubordination and classroom disruption and that you skipped going to school nine times. Jesse for almost a third of the school year you were deemed to be such a problem that they had to segregate you from your classmates…”


“Let me continue…”

“No. Because this is the thing that you and my teacher and my parents don’t get. I’m not the problem, the school is. Did you ever think that I purposefully act that way so I can get sent there because I can do the classwork on my own in less time than it takes for my teachers to go through every little thing the dumb kids don’t get? Does it say in those records that with all my free time I read things that actually interest me rather than just stare at the walls like the real problem kids in there? Does it say that despite all the time I am in IS or absent my grades are near the top of the class?”

“I knew about your grades, but not your intentions behind your actions. And honestly, I’m glad you feel secure enough out here to open yourself up about this. Have you already shared this with Miranda?” He looked over and saw Ran shaking her head to affirm he did. “If you told your parents or people at the school about this before and weren’t listened to, I’m sorry. Just know that we’re here to help you and that though it may be difficult to sometimes accept rules, we still need to follow them.”

“Or we get kidnapped, tazed and sent for a month to a re-education camp.”

“Actions have consequences that we don’t always expect, but we must accept them.”

“Let me then now ask you to clarify something. According to what you said, if, after I get back to Miami I searched for where you live and waited for you with a couple of my friends and forced you into a car and left you in the middle of nowhere, you’d just accept that.”

“That’s a threat!” Philip said.

Pussies get pounded, I thought, and smiled slyly and started tapping him out with my tongue. “I’m not threatening you, Phil. I’m using a rhetorical device called an “analogy” to make a point. I’m pointing out, again, the absurdity of your generalizations about accepting things the way they are. You want me to accept consequences, but what you’re really saying is you want me to be this person that’s not me that you want to be. It’s just like when you say that “We’re all adults now” when a whole other set of rules apply to us. God, were you always such a dick or did you just decide to become one when you realized it wasn’t normal to have one the size of a thumb.”

At this last line all the guys chuckled and the two girls smirked. Miranda gave me an angry stare. Maybe if I managed to push his buttons enough she’ll take me aside for a one on one and I can press my luck for a fuck. She’s pissed but just like every other chick likes bad boys.

“A small dick joke, does that really helps anything Jesse?”

“If that’s the one thing you heard from everything I just said, you’re the one who needs to develop better attention and communication skills.”

Philip was in the middle of spitting out a response when a crack of lightning branched out countless white fingers across the purplish haze of the evening sky. The illumination of the sky revealed that the approaching clouds were not just dark from the setting sun but were instead heavy with the lifeblood of earth. I, like everyone, internally counted the moments before the thunder roared. Three seconds passed before the tremor of air was audible. I unhitched my tweaked eyes from Philip’s face and for the first time noticed everyone staring at me. For the first time, I noticed Joann was smiling. I understood then why she normally didn’t, she looked, well, sinister.

“We’ll finish this later,” Philip said. “Let’s do a quick clean up just in case the storm passes by here.”

Two minutes later, sure enough, the previously comforting wind became more vigorous. It flowed through the nearby plants. Another crackle crossed the sky and a dense veil of rain started to fall. Philip yelled out not to worry about the fire and that since it was already dark to consider it bed time. The rainfall on the tents and plants around them made a diverse array of sounds. Feeling jacked up from the confrontation, I lay back and listened to the sounds of the storm and tried to find some kind of rhythm to calm me. Nothing. Instead, I thought about Miranda. If she’d pulled me aside to yell at me back there something probably would have happened. Pressing my lips together and licking them I recalled our brief kiss. My hand on her ass. The gun to my stomach. The risk of getting caught. Fuc-king-hot. I was starting to convince myself to break my vow not to pleasure myself while out in the Glades when I faintly heard the sound of the tent’s zipper opening up. Miranda! Is it really this easy to make awesome things like this happen? I smiled. Miranda, already at the front of my thoughts, was about to leave the back of my throat when I recognized by the hair length it wasn’t her. It was Joann.